Antonio’s Salute to Fashion spotlights soldiers, students

Scholarship winner Greg Dugdale, with one of his designs

Antonio-19Antonio’s Salute to Fashion on Saturday, January 19 was not simply a fashion show, but an extravaganza. Antonio Fermin, a Zionsville bridal couturier and the animated host, greeted guests entering the EventzPlus banquet lobby in Castleton like old and dear friends.

Fermin kicked off the evening with a heartfelt speech thanking our troops, and several members of the Armed Forces, including one of the canine variety, were honored following a rendition of “God Bless America,” .

The fashion show began once the dinner plates were cleared.

Student designers, representing multiple schools and universities around the state, competed for the $500 scholarship, awarded based on the quality of the applicant’s essay, the number of tickets they sold to the event, and the items they donated to the silent auction.

Scholarship-winner and Carmel High School senior Greg Dugdale opened the show with a collection crafted predominantly from recycled pieces. His designs, including a patchwork vinyl dress, a faux leather bandeau top, and a metallic A-line skirt made from upcycled pattern paper, reflect a maturity beyond his years.

“Fifth grade is when I made my first recycled tie-skirt – the first wearable piece of art I made,” Dugdale said. “Each year I progressed, and by the time I was a freshman, I absolutely knew I wanted to be a fashion designer, and pursue that in college.”

He agreed to participate a mere two days before the show after another designer dropped out.

Other highlights of the student show included a Jetsons-themed minidress and Pucci-esque printed maxidress  from Courtney Pantau, as well as a “drag queen-inspired” bodysuit with a flowing sheer skirt from Joey.

Fermin emceed the hour-long fashion show, providing additional entertainment with his over-the-top commentary. “Are you ready for the big boys?” he asked, introducing designs from Nikki Blaine Couture, Catou by Berny Martin menswear, Black Cat Couture, and his namesake label.

Kathleen Kologinsky, the head seamstress for Black Cat Couture, custom fits all the designs for the line, which is sold at Fermin’s Zionsville shop, A Step Above Bridal. Each BCC client has a muslin custom-created from her own measurements to ensure a perfectly tailored garment every time she orders a new dress. In addition to eveningwear, Kologinsky also designs two custom wedding gowns and a pair of flower girl shoes for Fermin each season.

Fermin’s “Angels” closed the show. The diversity of the models dressed in his bridal collection, accessorized with white angel wings, highlighted the designer’s ability to outfit brides of all shapes and sizes.

“To me as a couturier, fashion is art in motion, so tonight is not a night to judge,” Fermin said. “It’s a night to celebrate creation.”

Although he is originally from Spain, Fermin has organized charity fundraisers all over the world. Since moving to Indiana six years ago, he has decided he has a responsibility to start giving back to the students in the area.

“These are the ones that we’re going to pass the baton to in the future,” he said. “So I wanted to bring the fashion industry together to make it a night about the students by offering the scholarship and giving them the opportunity to meet with established designers. My motto is ‘Midwest is best,’ and I want the community to realize that.”

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